My entry to the Trail took an unexpectedly wayward route. At the recommendation of a friend, I attempted to bypass the Amicalola Falls approach trail by going up a forest service road to the trailhead. Unfortunately, my ride from the Greyhound station in Atlanta arrived with a Mustang convertible and while the guide says “suitable for all vehicles,” I doubt they tested that theory with a sports car. We drove a few miles up the road before calling it quits, and I decided to hike up the rest of the road. I managed to get another three miles before some kind passers-by stopped to give me a lift to the top.
This was actually an incredibly fortunate happenstance, as the driver was none other than Josh of the Thru Project (read the featured interview on Appalachian Trials here:) Josh and his friend Lael were great company on the rest of the ride up, and provided some welcome advice regarding pacing and nutrition while on the Trail.
Once we reached the trailhead, I parted ways with them to hike the remaining mile to the Springer Mountain shelter, where I camped for the night. I was exhausted enough to forego cooking my dinner and instead feasted on jerky and meal bars. I slept the night in my tent, which was a struggle. The MSR fast stash tent did not provide much cover from the rain, and due to a problem with the back mount, it collapsed in on me several times. I managed to make some adjustments that helped greatly and I’m hoping to get more enjoyment from the tent the rest of the Trail.
The next morning, I was entirely too slow getting up and struggled with getting my tent down. I set off first to make it to the actual top of Springer Mountain, where I took some requisite photos and signed the registry. On my way down, I realized I had left behind my food bag (and I had been so excited thinking my pack felt lighter) so I had to back track to the shelter to get it. Consequently, my cumulative progress on my first full day was sadly lacking. I stopped at Stone Creek Shelter to settle in, cook a meal, and rest.
My pack is still a struggle, I’m hoping a shakedown at Mountain Crossings will lead to some improvements. I’ve also realized a few things I’ve missed, most cruciallyy lighter, leaving me unable to use my stove unless I’m at a shelter and can borrow one from someone. I’m also planning on picking up some additional tent stakes and a coffee cup for enjoying my morning tea.
On the hike up, I was praying the All Father to keep in step, along with a meditation for each line. This is a practice I’ve seen many times over the years, but I think it’s best explained in “A Simple Way to Pray” a monograph by Martin Luther that was incredibly enlightening for me. This morning, the praise song “Step by Step” played through my head on repeat. I’m trying to use the time here to refocus and deepen both my prayer life as well as personal Biblical study. I’m reading the Professor Horner’s Bible plan, which is a challenge but a welcome one. It gives a variety of passages to read from each day. Prayer has been difficult, as I’ve felt self centered, praying mostly for endurance and a lightening of my load. I’ll be trying to be more intentional with praying for others going forward. As I settle in more with my pace, I’ll be trying to work in some audio Bible listening (as well as some reading for pleasure)